• Language, trust and transformation: exploring theatre as a research method with migrant youth

      Opfermann, Lena S.; Durham University (Taylor and Francis, 2019-07-29)
      This article explores the challenges and benefits of using theatre as a research method. It questions certain claims and assumptions underlying Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed and more recent literature on theatre-based research. In particular, it investigates the notion that theatre enables participants to address issues of oppression and create socio-political change. Based on a case study with migrant youth in South Africa, the article firstly argues that certain challenges specific to working with migrants such as differing language skills and a lack of trust may impede genuine dialogic exchange as envisioned by Boal. Secondly, it shows how these challenges can be overcome by incorporating writing exercises, video recordings and embodied communication. Finally, the article argues that theatre-based research can indeed create individual transformations in the form of increased displays of ownership, confidence and hope. These insights contribute to the growing literature on theatre-based research and will be useful for others using similar arts-based approaches.